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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears hinted at exploring options at right tackle for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, but a source familiar with the situation said veteran Frank Omiyale won't be among them.
With starter Gabe Carimi sidelined after suffering right kneecap subluxation against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 18, Omiyale has filled in at right tackle the past three games. The veteran struggled in Monday night's loss to the Detroit Lions, and eventually was benched in favor of Lance Louis.
"You always give players an opportunity," Bears coach Lovie Smith said on Wednesday. "And time in a game is based on what we see in practice. That's why we started Frank. Frank didn't play as well as he needs to; that he'll tell you he needs to. It's about performance, and we're not satisfied with the performance."
Carimi hasn't recovered sufficiently for the Bears to use him against the Vikings, according to a source. The initial prognosis for Carimi's setback was four to six weeks, and the rookie is coming up on the four-week mark. So signs pointed at the team giving Omiyale another shot. But according to the source, the Bears don't plan on going back to Omiyale.Offensive line coach Mike Tice wouldn't divulge the team's plans. "It's up in the air, but not as much as you probably would think," Tice said.
With Omiyale out of the picture, it appears the Bears plan to use Louis -- normally the starter at right guard -- at right tackle, while inserting Edwin Williams inside against the Vikings. Williams started three games last October at right guard, but eventually was moved out of the starting lineup when current starting center Roberto Garza recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Williams performed somewhat inconsistently in three starts last season, but offensive line coach Mike Tice raved in training camp about the second-year veteran's progress. Williams took repetitions with the second team throughout the preseason, and is currently listed as the primary backup at both guard spots.
"There's always a chance [the team makes changes in the starting lineup]," Smith said. "I of course never talk about changes we're going to make, especially before we hit the practice field and we talk to the guys. You do look at other options. We looked at other options in the game. We'll see how it goes this week."
Despite a broken hand, Chris Spencer could be another option at right guard, according to Tice. Spencer took what Tice called "a full load" at practice Thursday, but the team wants to see whether he can continue to do that throughout the week of preparation.
"Chris is a pro. The communication that he can give me -- how he's feeling -- he's gonna be honest with me," Tice said. "He's not gonna [expletive] me, and tell me he feels OK, then go out and make a fool of himself. So the communication he gives me tomorrow morning, if that's good, then I'm good. He does have a real injury. But he's had it before. I was pleased and encouraged today [by what Spencer was able to do]."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.